News


Appeals court will reconsider challenge to county fair gun ban

Long-running lawsuit filed in 1999 by gun show promoters

A federal appeals court in San Francisco announced Wednesday that it will reconsider whether Alameda County's ban on gun shows at the annual county fair in Pleasanton is constitutional.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said an 11-judge panel will review a decision in which a three-judge panel upheld the ban in April. The expanded panel will hear arguments in San Francisco in September and will issue a ruling at a later date.

The case before the court is a long-running lawsuit filed in 1999 by gun show promoters Russell and Sallie Nordyke of Willows in Glenn County.

They claim the rule against gun shows at the county fair violates their constitutional First Amendment right of free speech and Second Amendment right to bear arms.

Their attorney, Donald Kilmer of San Jose, wrote in a brief submitted to the appeals court that the Nordykes and their supporters are "law-abiding citizens who want to conduct safe and historically well-regulated gun shows in a public forum."

The Alameda County ordinance prohibits most gun possessions on county property, and the Nordykes claim it has the effect of banning gun shows at the fair.

The county Board of Supervisors enacted the ordinance in 1999 after a 1998 fair shooting in which eight people were injured.

The earlier 9th Circuit ruling in April came in the wake of a 2008 U.S. Supreme Court decision that said the Second Amendment right to bear arms provides an individual right to possess guns for self-defense and that citizens could challenge federal gun laws.

The 9th Circuit panel said the citizens have the right to challenge state and local laws as well. But the court also said the Alameda County rule was justified as a public safety measure.

After the court asked both sides in May to submit briefs on whether it should rehear the case, Alameda County lawyers urged the court to continue to uphold the ban but to reconsider whether citizens can challenge state and local laws.

On the other side, the Nordykes asked the court to strike down the ban but to keep in place the conclusion that lawsuits against state and local laws should be allowed.

Julia Cheever, Bay City News

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